ODESSA, TX (Local 2 News) — Mothers who are obese during pregnancy double their chances of having a child with autism, and pregnant women who are obese and diabetic are four times more likely to have an autistic child than women who weigh less, according to a recent study published by the journal Pediatrics.
Dr. James Maher, Associate Professor at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and Medical Director for Maternal Fetal Medicine at Medical Center Hospital, finds this equation to not to be perfect science yet.
“It’s an association, it’s not even a link. I don’t think we can say that, obesity, plus diabetes equals autism,” Dr. Maher said.
The study finds one and a half percent of children born in the U.S. develop autism.
The risk rises to 3 percent for obese moms, and 6 percent for obese and diabetic mothers.
Looking at the big picture, women with diabetes and obesity still have a 95 percent chance of having a baby without a neuro-developmental disorder.
However, Dr. Maher finds the risks for obese and diabetic moms don’t stop at autism.
“There is an increase in a whole spectrum of abnormalities,” he said.
Some abnormalities include developmental issues, to a greater chance of stillborn births.
To decrease these risks the days of “eating for 2” are over.
“People think, ‘oh well I’m pregnant, I need to substantially increase the amount of calories that I’m taking in,’ and that’s just not the case,” Dr. Maher said.
Obstetricians now find overweight moms should only gain between zero and 15 pounds during pregnancy, compared to the 25 to 30 pounds for a mother at normal weight.
Overall, Dr. Maher has the same recommendations for every pregnant woman.
“Get into the best physical health you can before you get pregnant, get in to see your doctor as soon as you know you’re pregnant and start taking your health and your nutrition seriously.”